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Showing posts from September, 2007

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Trial by Fire - Did Texas execute an innocent man?

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The fire moved quickly through the house, a one-story wood-frame structure in a working-class neighborhood of Corsicana, in northeast Texas. Flames spread along the walls, bursting through doorways, blistering paint and tiles and furniture. Smoke pressed against the ceiling, then banked downward, seeping into each room and through crevices in the windows, staining the morning sky.
Buffie Barbee, who was eleven years old and lived two houses down, was playing in her back yard when she smelled the smoke. She ran inside and told her mother, Diane, and they hurried up the street; that’s when they saw the smoldering house and Cameron Todd Willingham standing on the front porch, wearing only a pair of jeans, his chest blackened with soot, his hair and eyelids singed. He was screaming, “My babies are burning up!” His children—Karmon and Kameron, who were one-year-old twin girls, and two-year-old Amber—were trapped inside.
Willingham told the Barbees to call the Fire Department, and while Dia…

Court halts Irving killer's execution

HUNTSVILLE, Texas – A condemned killer from Irving avoided the nation's busiest death chamber Thursday night when the U.S. Supreme Court gave him a reprieve.

Attorneys for Carlton Turner Jr., who was convicted of killing his parents, had appealed to the high court hoping the justices' review of lethal injection procedures in Kentucky, announced earlier this week, could keep him from execution.

In a brief, one-paragraph order, the court said it had granted his stay of execution. The order came more than four hours after he could have been executed and less than two hours before the death warrant would have expired at midnight.

"All I can say is all glory to God," Mr. Turner told prison officials as he was being returned to death row, in another prison about 45 miles east of Huntsville.

The Supreme Court order made no mention of its reasons for stopping the punishment.

Mr. Turner would have been the 27th Texas inmate to be executed this year and the second this week.

After s…

Court to review lethal injection: Ruling in Kentucky case could have wide effect

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The United States Supreme Court yesterday agreed to consider whether Kentucky's method of executing prisoners is constitutional.
The high court's decision in Kentucky's lethal injection case -- an appeal brought by convicted double murderers Ralph Baze and Thomas Clyde Bowling Jr. -- could have widespread implications across the country. Courts have struggled with whether the three-drug cocktail used in lethal injection violates an inmate's Eighth Amendment right not to suffer cruel and unusual punishment.
Baze, 52, had been scheduled to be executed yesterday, but the Kentucky Supreme Court stayed the execution, citing Baze's pending appeals. Bowling, 54, was scheduled to be executed in November 2004, but the execution was halted in part because of the pending legal challenge to how the state executes prisoners.
The U.S. Supreme Court's decision to hear the Kentucky case could temporarily stay executions across the country until a decision is reached, many experts…

Convicted killer executed for woman's death 21 years ago

HUNTSVILLE, Texas — A U.S. Supreme Court decision to review whether lethal injection procedures are unconstitutionally cruel failed to stop the execution of a Texas man as the high court allowed his punishment to be carried out.

Michael Richard, 49, was put to death Tuesday evening by Texas corrections officials with a toxic combination of drugs that justices hours earlier decided they would examine after a challenge from two condemned inmates in Kentucky.

Lawyers for Richard had gone to the court asking the lethal injection in Texas be halted and cited the Kentucky case in their appeal. The justices, however, rejected the appeal.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott's office had challenged Richard's appeals while Gov. Rick Perry's office insisted the execution — the 26th this year in Texas, by far the highest number in the nation among states with the death penalty — would go forward as planned.

About two hours after he was scheduled to die, Richard was taken to the Texas death…

UN. TUTU: MORATORIUM VOTE CAN HELP STOP CYCLE OF REVENGE

September 21, 2007: Desmond Tutu, the archbishop of Cape Town and 1984 Nobel Peace laureate has called on the UN to vote in favour of abolishing the death penalty worldwide. “Such is the world sentiment against the death penalty (with notable exceptions like the United States, China, and Singapore) that a resolution calling for a moratorium on executions and the abolition of capital punishment is to go before the UN General Assembly in October.”
In his analysis, Tutu writes that the case for abolition becomes more compelling with each passing year. Everywhere, experience shows us that executions brutalise both those directly involved in the process and the society that carries them out.
Nowhere has it been shown that the death penalty reduces crime or political violence. In country after country, it is used disproportionately against the poor or against racial or ethnic minorities. It is often used as a tool of political repression.
It is imposed and inflicted arbitrarily. It is irrev…

Most Poles oppose capital punishment

September 21, 2007: most people in Poland oppose capital punishment, according to a survey done three days after Warsaw blocked European Union plans for a symbolic campaign against the death penalty.

Fifty-two percent of those questioned were against capital punishment, while 46 percent favoured it, marking a fall in previous support, the poll by the GfK Polonia public opinion institute found. Two percent had no view. Among opponents, 29 percent said they were firmly against the potential reintroduction of the death penalty in Poland, which was abolished a decade ago, while 23 percent said they were generally against it. (Sources: Agence France Presse, 21/09/2007)

Source : Hands Off Cain

SOUTH KOREA. CAMPAIGN STARTS TO SCRAP DEATH PENALTY

September 18, 2007: Religious, human rights and civic groups called in South Korea for the government's abolishment of capital punishment and its signing a global treaty against the system.
Twenty civic groups including Amnesty International and Lawyers for a Democratic Society asked the government to join the moratorium on executions introduced at the 62nd session of the United Nations General Assembly.
`The adoption of such a resolution by the U.N.'s principal organ would be an important milestone toward the abolition of the death penalty,' the Association for the Abolishment of the Death Penalty said.
The association will hold a 100-day campaign, as the government is yet reluctant to show its standpoint.
Korea has the U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon who leads the world's human rights. Still, it has 64 people sentenced to death,'' Kim Ho-soo, the human rights watch dog's campaigner, said.

Source Hands Off Cain

Time on Death Row

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The length of time prisoners spend on death row in the United States before their executions has recently emerged as a topic of interest in the debate about the death penalty. The discussion increased around the execution of Michael Ross, a Connecticut inmate who had been on death row for 17 years, and has been spurred by the writings of two Supreme Court Justices who have urged the Court to consider this issue.
Death row inmates in the U.S. typically spend over a decade awaiting execution. Some prisoners have been on death row for well over 20 years.
During this time, they are generally isolated from other prisoners, excluded from prison educational and employment programs, and sharply restricted in terms of visitation and exercise, spending as much as 23 hours a day alone in their cells.
This raises the question of whether death row prisoners are receiving two distinct punishments: the death sentence itself, and the years of living in conditions tantamount to solitary confinement – a s…

Vietnam sentences Australian to death

September 18, 2007

An Australian man of Vietnamese origin has been sentenced to death for heroin trafficking in a Ho Chi Minh City court, a court official said.

Tony Manh, 40, of NSW, was convicted of trafficking 0.948 kilograms of heroin at the one-day trial, Phan Tanh, deputy head of the People's Court in Ho Chi Minh City, said.

Manh was sentenced to death and ordered to pay a fine of 50 million dong ($A3,755).

Manh was arrested in March after security officers at Tan Son Nhat airport in Ho Chi Minh City found the drugs hidden on his body as he was about to board a plane to Sydney.

The official Vietnam News Agency reported that Manh was paid $US10,000 ($A12,020) by a Vietnamese to smuggle the drug into Australia.

The counsellor at Australia's Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City, Graham Pearce, said a representative from the consulate attended the trial, but declined to comment.

Tanh said the court would put on trial two other Australians of Vietnamese origin on Thursday, a…

Texas executes Clifford Kimmel

HUNTSVILLE, Texas – His appeals exhausted, convicted killer Clifford Kimmel was put to death Thursday for his part in a triple slaying.
Two executions are set for next week: Michael Wayne Richard, 49, on Tuesday for the 1986 rape and slaying of Marguerite Dixon during a burglary of her home in Hockley, and a Dallas County man, Carlton Turner, 28, on Thursday for killing his parents in 1998.

BACKGROUND ON RECENT COMMUTATION: "Grossly Inadequate" Representation in a System that "Broke Down"

Just two days after Tennessee's first electrocution in nearly 50 years, Governor Phil Bredesen commuted the death sentence of Michael Joe Boyd to life in prison without parole. The Governor called the representation Boyd received during his appeals "grossly inadequate," adding that Boyd's claims were never comprehensively reviewed because his appellate attorney - Dan Seward - failed to provide evidence to support Boyd's initial claim that he was poorly represented during his trial.
Bredesen observed, "I've always taken the position that I'm not trying to be the 13th juror; I'm trying to be a backstop. The judicial system just kind of broke down." Boyd's current attorney, Robert Hutton, said that Boyd's clemency request to Bredesen was one of the last legal avenues available before his scheduled execution on October 24.
Boyd, now known as Mika'eel Abdullah Abdus-Samad in prison, has been on death row since 1988. He was convicted of …

Judge Declares Tennessee Lethal Injection Protocols Unconstitutional, Halts Executions

U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger has ruled that Tennessee's new lethal injection procedures are cruel and unusual, a decision that halts executions in the state. Trauger stated that Tennessee's new lethal injection protocols, released in April 2007, present "a substantial risk of unnecessary pain" and violate death row inmate Edward Jerome Harbison's constitutional protections under the Eighth Amendment. She added that the protocols do not adequately ensure that inmates are properly anesthetized during lethal injections, a problem that could "result in a terrifying, excruciating death." The decision noted that State Department of Corrections Commissioner George Little adopted the new guidelines despite having knowledge about the remaining risks of excessive pain for inmates.

Source : Death Penalty Information Center

Bali smuggler marks 21st in jail

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MATTHEW Norman (left) was 18 when he decided to become a heroin smuggler.Today he turned 21, locked up on death row in Bali, aware that this birthday could be his last.
There was nothing resembling a celebration for the youngest member of the Bali Nine heroin ring. Norman's twin sister Cheryl is in Bali to support him. But because Kerobokan jail does not allow visitors on Mondays, he spent the day alone. There was no cake and no special privileges and he was allowed out of his cell for just one hour.
As far as birthdays go, it's hard to imagine a bleaker scene. Friends say Norman will get to see his sister and mother Robyn Davies tomorrow when they will go to the jail for a small celebration, marking the third birthday he has spent behind bars. "Robyn had hoped to be able to bring a cake and some gifts, just something simple, but it will have to wait until tomorrow," said Ed Trotter, a Pentecostal minister from Australia who regularly visits Norman.
It has been a tough…

Britain grants temporary asylum to Iranian lesbian

The British government, following an international outcry, has offered temporary asylum to an Iranian lesbian, Pegah Emambakhsh, and agreed to re-examine her petition for permanent residence.

British authorities initially rejected the claim of Emambakhsh, who alleged she could be put to death in her native country because of her sexual orientation.

Source: 365Gay.com (click on the link to read this feature in full)

Kenneth Foster to Remain in Solitary Confinement Despite Commuted Sentence

Supporters of former Texas death row inmate Kenneth Foster, Jr. learned today that he will remain in solitary confinement indefinitely at the McConnell Unit in Beeville. He has been placed at the lowest security level, meaning he has the highest amount of restrictions on his daily activities. He will only be allowed two visits per month and will not have contact visits.

Family and supporters of Foster had expected that his commutation would result in looser restrictions on his visitations. Specifically, they had hoped he would be able to have contact visits with his wife, Tasha Narez-Foster, and his daughter, Nydesha Foster. Foster has never had physical contact with his wife and has not touched his daughter since she was an infant.

“This is a very discouraging development,” said Lily Hughes of the Campaign to End the Death Penalty, “Obviously, we are happy that Kenneth is no longer on death row, but the fact that he is living under basically the same conditions as death row is unaccept…

Resurrection: August 30th, 2007

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Like thieves in the night they swooped me up. It was the eve of my own State sanctioned murder, approximately 8:20 PM and I was listening to shout-outs pour in to me on 96.1 KDOL. Unexpectedly, there was a knock at my cell door. There stood a death row Lieutenant and 2 Wardens (Simmons and Hirch.) "Strip out!" was the Lieutenant's order. "For what reason?" I responded. "Because we told you to" was all that I got back.

Having no idea what the situation could be I complied with the order. Though I was being provoked I didn't want to act before knowing what the situation was. I stripped out and exited the cell. I could feel in my bones that something wasn't right. And as we exited the pod my feelings were true - there waiting for me was a 5 man extraction team and all of the shift supervisors (several Sergeants) and to top it off several plain clothed people (at first I thought these were Sheriffs, but later found out that it was the TDC Regional…

'You've got to have hope'

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August 16, 2007 12:00am
THE parents of Bali Nine drug mule Scott Rush are doggedly maintaining the belief their son will ultimately beat the death penalty.
"I'm not rolling up my swag yet. I'm still optimistic - I've got to be,'' Scott's father Lee Rush said yesterday.
Mr Rush was responding to reports from Indonesia that the Denpasar District Court had rejected all legal arguments to downgrade the death penalty for three of the Bali Nine - Matthew Norman, Si Yi Chen and Tan Duc Thanh Nguyen.
"We're not sure how Scott will be travelling after he gets wind of it but we are trying to speak positively about it,'' Mr Rush said.
Mr Rush said the family - which had established the Australians Against Capital Punishment lobby group - was still awaiting the outcome of a constitutional challenge mounted by their lawyers.
The Indonesian Constitutional Court has been asked to rule on whether the imposition of the death penalty for a drug crime offends the…

Still hope for Bali 9 trio : lawyer

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August 16, 2007 07:00am Article from: AAP

DEFENCE lawyer says Indonesia's Supreme Court could still save three members of the Bali Nine heroin ring, despite a panel of judges recommending that their death penalties be upheld.

Three judges from the Denpasar District Court have advised the Supreme Court to reject a last-ditch appeal by Australian drug smugglers Matthew Norman, 20, Si Yi Chen, 22, and Tan Duc Thanh Nguyen, 23. But the men's lawyer Farhat Abbas says the Supreme Court is under no obligation to follow the lower court's opinion.
A decision on the appeal is not expected for several weeks. "The decision-makers are the judges at the Supreme Court,'' Abbas said. "The opinion from the District Court has nothing to do with the case because they can only hear it, but they cannot make a decision."The judge overseeing the case in Denpasar's District Court, Martin Bidara, agreed, saying the Supreme Court had made different rulings to the District Cou…

Bali 9 : No clemency plea from PM

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PRIME Minister John Howard said he did not use talks today with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to seek clemency for six Australians on death row in Bali.
Six members of the Bali Nine drug ring are fighting to escape the death sentences they received over a failed attempt to smuggle heroin into Australia in April 2005.
Mr Howard said the case came up "naturally" during his talks in Bali today with Mr Yudhoyono, as part of a broader discussion about a possible prisoner exchange treaty between the two countries.
"It's quite inappropriate to be raising issues of clemency at this time, quite inappropriate and I have not raised them because those matters are still before the courts," Mr Howard said. "I have complete respect for the court processes here in Indonesia. (I mentioned to the president) that there was a sensitivity and interest in the case (but) the overwhelming majority of Australians understood and strongly supported the anti-drug laws of…

La peine de mort en Asie

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La fusillade ou le peloton d'exécution

C'est la méthode d'exécution la plus répandue en Chine. On y fusille chaque année des milliers de personnes pour des raisons qui peuvent être le meurtre, l'évasion fiscale, les jeux de hasard, la bigamie, la vente de peaux de panda géant, le vol de vache, la piraterie informatique et beaucoup d'autres.

A l'occasion, on sort également les fusils dans quelques autres pays asiatiques, notamment en Libye, Syrie, Indonésie, Corée du Nord, au Tadjikistan et à Barheïn.

En Indonésie, le condamné reçoit la nouvelle de son exécution 72h à l'avance. Le jour J, il s'avance face au peloton d'exécution cagoulé et habillé de vêtements blancs. Sur son torse est peinte une croix rouge indiquant l'emplacement du coeur. Sur les quatorze fusils utilisés, deux sont chargés à blanc. Quand le vacarme cesse, un médecin contrôle que le corps criblé de balles ne donne plus signe de vie. S'il n'est pas tout à fait mort une b…

Bush Accepts Invitation to Beijing Olympics

SYDNEY, Australia, Sept. 6 — President Bush said today that he has accepted an invitation from President Hu Jintao of China to attend the 2008 summer Olympics in Beijing, a move that is likely to inflame China’s critics, who are calling for a boycott of the games to protest human rights abuses in that country.
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South Carolina parolee executed for Texas slaying

A repentant South Carolina drifter was executed Wednesday evening for strangling, robbing and raping an Amarillo woman a few months after he had been paroled from prison.
Tony Roach spoke for several minutes, his voice cracking at times and a tear at the corner of his eye. He repeatedly sought forgiveness from the fiance and the daughter of his victim, who stood a few feet away looking through a window.
Saying that he was to blame for the killing, Roach said he knew the victim was "in a good place." "I can't agree with this justice the state is carrying out but I accept it and I'm sorry," he said. "I have no ill will toward anyone carrying out this so-called justice. I leave y'all in God's care."
He was pronounced dead at 6:22 p.m., nine minutes after the lethal flow of drugs began.
Roach, 30, was the 24th condemned inmate put to death this year in the nation's most active capital punishment state. The total equals the number of executions …

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